Sunday, December 11, 2005

Brown bears, walruses and my jealous angina

Angina sounds like the name of a muse. Perhaps she is. And maybe she's jealous of my lovely Shirleen.

I won't go into the details of our copulation out of respect for my new girliefriend. I've tweaked enough of the details of her appearance and situation, I hope, to render her unidentifiable.

We made love on the couch after dinner. I think that the athletic Shirleen was surprised by the quality of my performance, and the vigor with which I engaged the situation. "Not bad for an old fatty, eh?" I asked as we lay there sweating. She was on top of me, her head on my chest, one hand twirling the end of my beard. "Not bad," she said, with a smirk and a wink. She said that lying on top of me was what it must feel like to recline on the belly of a slumbering grizzly. That made me think that "Brown Bear" might have been a better pseudonym.

We were almost asleep when she groaned, wearily, "Professor Trout, what are we going to do?" I felt that this could lead us into an uncomfortable discussion of the pragmatics of our situation, being teacher and student, so I said, "Let's go for a walk."

There is a state park at the edge of town, and a trailhead within walking distance from my flat. We strolled under a thick mat of fast-moving clouds, occasionally a hole opening to reveal a patch of starlight. We hiked several miles until we were both breathing heavy. I led her up a crest where there's a grove of towering maples. We sat with our backs to the trunk of one of these massive creatures, staring at the lights of campus and the various church steeples visible in the distance. Our breath formed ghostly clouds in the crisp air as we spoke. We talked about a great many things, though every time she tried to circle back to the subject of our future I successfully changed topics.

By the time we returned to my apartment I was quite winded and cursing my age under my breath. But Shirleen exhibited her youth. "Why don't you warm up the shower?" she said with the wink that summoned my second wind and caused the ermine to stir once more in his warren. I warned her that fitting into that tight space with me would be like cramming into a phone booth with a walrus. She laughed and said it sounded like fun.

I changed into my lucky silk robe and had the water running at full heat, steam filling the bathroom. She entered the bathroom, startling me. She was undressed and I stared at her, tears forming behind the bridge of my nose. Had the words not caught in my throat I would have proposed to her on the spot. I've learned nothing from my three marriages. Then Shirleen reached under my robe with her bare hands. My pulse pounded. Her hands were still freezing from our winter night walk, and the sensation of chilled fingers on my warm belly caused my throat to tighten. Suddenly I was breathing heavy and my lungs felt as if they were being squeezed by a giant fist. I sat down on the toilet, struggling for breath. The pain in my chest increased, and it felt as if my heart were inflated, raw and bleeding.

Half an hour later, we were in the emergency room. We were unfortunate in that we ran into my department chair. She'd broken her ankle tripping over her cat in the night on the way to the bathroom. She looked me up and down as I stood clutching my chest in my bathrobe, and then studied Shirleen. I was sure I'd lost my job, but Shirleen later lied and said that I'd randomly selected her from my student phone list after experiencing the chest pains because I was too proud and cheap for an ambulance, and Ms. Chair swallowed the story. Perhaps Shirleen will make a fine storyteller after all.

I was quickly diagnosed with the jealous angina I mentioned before. I was fortunate that I didn't suffer a heart attack, the doctor said. "What were you doing?" he asked. "Brisk walk," I replied. They prepared a room and scheduled me for angioplasty first thing in the morning.

The upshot is I have a confusing array of new pills and a dietary regimen that completely obliterates everything that is pleasurable in food. I'm sure there are plenty of tasty low cholesterol meals, but the very idea that I'm to avoid tripe and foie de gras sucks the life out of lesser foods. Fuckitall. The doctor saw something that caused concern...he's hoping I won't need a bypass. He said I should be noticeably less winded on my "walks" very soon, but if I don't show signs of improvement we may need to consider surgery. I'm taking a week off, though I'm having some of the better students stop by the flat for some coaching and advice before the semester ends. Nawaz has offered to cook my new lowfat menu. Even so, I've got a heavy dose of the black ass.

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